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Introduction - Track Plan for Input

Started by rlcross, November 24, 2021, 09:59:13 pm

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November 24, 2021, 09:59:13 pm Last Edit: November 25, 2021, 05:49:32 pm by rlcross
Hey, my name's Richard.  I've been an on/off modeler for seems like forever.  Recently retired so I'm redirecting my energy into modeling.  My layout below is an N scale.  Mainline radius is 20"/18.75".  Reverse loop is 16" min radius.  Wye is 14" min radius.  I plan on modeling steam era, but may fudge towards transition.  I wanted a couple of mine/logging areas, a storefront town and a scenic canyon/trestle area.  I am looking for some switching with a yard and some round the layout open running.  I plan to build the wye in a first phase, and supplement the loco area with a roundhouse in phase 2.  I intend to use #10 turnouts on the mainline and #6 otherwise using Fast Tracks templates.  Sitting here, long before the build, I also intend hand laid track throughout, but that may change as initial enthusiasm wanes replaced with flex track.

Edit:  I added an East to West reverse loop.  I realized that the original reverse loop would let you go from Westbound to Eastbound, but there was no way to reverse a running train from East to West. 

I look forward to your comments and suggestions.


Wow! That's a really nice layout.  Well done.


Hi Richard, If it were me, and it's not, I would eliminate the reverse loops entirely. This would eliminate some turnouts and reduce reverse loop wiring complexity.

I do like the canyon mine area and would use the reverse loop rough footprint to gain a branchline run to the mine using it. You could bring the mine closer to the front edge creating a situation where it's easier to reach for coupling/uncoupling tasks. You could then elevate it or drop it deeper into the canyon for scenic interest.

With the reverse loops removed you could have more space for scenery and mainline separation. It would also allow for longer yard tracks if desired.

In terms of operations I see a local, mine run, and maybe a logging run, along with a mainline train here and there. I know this leaves you with imagining the mainline trains go out and back as loads vs empties, but such is model railroading. You could expand the logging run into a branchline and have a siding where the mainline trains could interchange with it.

Just some spit balling. If it sticks great if not food for thought.


A quick example of my thoughts.


November 30, 2021, 10:13:17 am #4 Last Edit: November 30, 2021, 10:17:21 am by rlcross
John, thanks for the input.  I took your suggestion to eliminate the reverse loops, and I separated the dual mainlines giving me longer running and more opportunity to play with the scenery around each mainline.  I inserted a second station as well.  My primary motivation will be longer runs through scenery so your suggestions opened that up immensely.  Total running track is something like 121 feet from the Yard & Station 1, through Station 2 and back to home base again.  Before with the dual mainlines the running track was cut in half and the scenery could not get as tight.

The yard lines are currently 36 inches, which, with 3 of them, should be enough for working 15-20 cars (limit 40).  At todays prices not sure I will ever fill it up.  Even 7 engine tracks is optimistic though I am always a sucker for a new locomotive even if the Railroads Board of Directors hasn't approved the upgrade.

Regards, Richard.


Richard, I like the layout, but a few thoughts:
1) Reaching in to the 3 corners will be a challenge, especially for scenery or any issues that need to get fixed. If you are concerned as well, you could make the reach a little shorter by moving in the innermost track a few inches in the 2 left corners.
2) I like Station 2, but visually it will be very close to Station 1. You could place it farther away, like in the  lower peninsula along the creek, or in one of the straight sections in the upper right. Another option would be to have 3 stations.
3) You have no real staging yards. You could add some behind the tunnel along the left side, for example under the logging section. Another possibility is to add a staging track along the upper wall. Staging track should not be on the main line, but you could add a parallell track to the mainline at the top.


Magnus, thanks for the input.  I agree, looking at Station 2, it would be good to move it to either the Logging or Mine area.  The passing siding currently near the mine is a good location to look at.

Regarding access, currently the Canyon area is open to the right, and the Engine Service area is open to the left (not shown currently but the room continues 10 ft to the right.  The upper left and lower left corners are the furthest reach areas.  I will look to see what I can shift around to shift the inner surface edge closer to those corners.  The proximity of the lower right Canyon turns makes it difficult to shift much.

I had considered connecting the Canyon area to the Engine Service area with a lift up section, turning the total layout into a "round the room" form.  But I am not sure if I like the thought of a lift-up. That would let me shift the entire lower left corner in towards the wall more as there would be no loops required in the Canyon area if I headed from there up towards Engine Service in the upper right instead.  I'll give it more thought.

Thanks again for both your and John's input. 


Looking at your plan again, another option could be to move Station 1. I actually like the location of Station 2, while Station 1 will be in a very busy location, next to the main yard and on the main line. Plus if you move Station 1, you don't need the small extension in the benchwork (although you might want it for other reasons).

And consider some staging areas, I always regret not having enough staging. Seems like you could get it in in a few places like I mentioned earlier.


Magnus, took a shot at changing the layout to a "round the room" with a lift out section.  This allowed me to open up the corners just a bit.  I agree with Station 2 being a good location.  Station 1 is still beside the yard, but is incorporated into a local loop "Loop 1" that connects to the mainline on each end of the bridge lift out.  I put a dockyard section on this local loop using the lift out as a navigable river scenic feature.  On the mainline which loops around the room twice, I put a mine, logging area and Station 2.  The three wall areas are 24" deep.

Regarding a staging area, I'm not sure about the need for it? (serious question, not a challenge).  Is it for surplus car storage?  I had anticipated using the yard/industries for operational storage and with capacity for 40 cars (24 at 60% capacity), and 5 loco spurs, 1 caboose spur, I didn't think off-layout storage was necessary.  My max train length is anticipated to be 10 cars, thus the 36" yard length.



"Round the Room" has progressed with a Narrow Gauge Branch and an interchange with the standard gauge mainline.  I cut out one of the two mainline loops and created room for a narrow gauge branch to service the more dramatic terrain afforded to mining and logging.




Hi Richard,
1) I really like the narrow gauge Logging and Mining side, could be some great scenery there. Seems like you have good track plan with 2 spurs for each and switchbacks. And the scenery in the corners will be great as you will not have issues reaching trains there. Are the spurs long enough? Seems like you could have only about 2 cars on each?
2) Lift outs are tricky; I'm not a fan of them. Think hard if you will be happy with them. Me personally, I would go back to the 2 blobs in the folded dog bone style you had before. Perhaps pushing out the end blobs more in the center of the room so you can have access on both sides of them so the layout would be more of a spiral. I mocked up something in the attached of what I had in mind.
3) With that change your railroad would also be more purposeful - where are things going and where are things coming from? Now it's round-round; with the dog bone you would have more distinct destinations. Maybe adding a yard, industry and maybe another station. Currently you really have only one serious yard. I think it would be more interesting if you had some more activities incl another yard where you could send and receive cars from. The transfer ramp is great, but one more would make the layout have more purpose.
4) To quote another guru - Allen McClelland: "think beyond the basement". Where are your trains coming and going from? I keep harping on some staging yards where your trains can come from and go to - interchange beyond your railroad. More interesting and surprising. You have good space under the town of hidden tracks and also under the Mine/logging area for some hidden destinations beyond your basements, aka staging yards.
5) Are you planning to run trains in both directions? You have no way to turn around trains now as far as I can see. Perhaps it's ok.

Nice work!


I like v1 better than v4, but without the reverse loop. Need to study this a bit more :)


Thank you all for your input.  Over the iterations, I've added a Nn3 Narrow Gauge Branch with logging and mining areas, plus a small yard with Ramsey Ramp for transitioning to Standard Gauge.  The Narrow Gauge branch gives me the chance to explore my love of Shays.  May have to build my own Nn3 Shay.

I've also added 4 industrial areas, one of which is a port, and at least 2 stations for passenger service (city and serving the Nn3 industrial crews).  Additional whistle stops and depots may follow.

I've reprioritized the Roundhouse in lieu of Wye and Reversing Loops.  I prefer the Round the Room to a dog-bone style as those big circular blobs on each end of a dogbone would have to encroach on the area to the left too much and I find them visually unattractive.  It's just a personal preference thing.  I am still considering a fiddle yard.  I can't get at it on the north wall underneath the city, or west wall under the Logging and Mining.  I am considering putting on under the long stretch under the Port, however it would require an upper/lower two level Tilt section which I have not got my head around.

Following the excellent example of Magnus, I have incorporated layers for Foam contours, buss lines, etc.

If the attached track plan is a little too visually busy to follow, just turn off the contours layer if it helps.

A work in progress.

Regards,  Richard


Wow, you really raised the bar on using layers, Richard!

I like a lot of things; the narrow gauge section, 2 or more stations, yard, barge, limited reach and more. But I'll focus on the things I have questions around:
1) You have double mainline, which I guess is so that you can have meeting trains? Nice! But since you have no way to turn a loco or train into opposite direction, that means that you can only stop at stations in one direction, or you would risk collision since you need to go twice around to get from station to station. Maybe that is ok. Otherwise adding another crossover on the other side of the Mesa station would allow you to stop at that station in both directions and not require 2 loops.
2) Do you envision the local loop as only one direction or both? Both I assume since barge goes one direction and the interchange the opposite direction? Now you can only do passing and runarounds in the yard and you might want to add more flexibility if you want to address this by adding some sidings/runaround. Also, is the drill track in the yard enough length to avoid using the local loop during switching?
3) I don't think you need a fiddle yard so much, but an extra staging track where you simply park a train on a separate siding under the city would add interest. Trains can disappear (parked) and trains can come from "beyond the basement".
4) I see you have numbered the turnouts separately. You could perhaps use the Label feature instead? Then they would show in the Label report.
5) I don't like blobs in a dogbone either, and I don't like liftouts either. But you have a chosen a liftout, which is fine - lesser of two evil. But I'm thinking you might want to sometimes use your layout in a point to point way, without requiring the liftout. Just an idea. I'm running on a friend's layout with 2 liftouts, and 80% of the time we don't put down the liftouts. If you put the dockyard on the other side of the liftout then the two end points could be your interchange shipping loads to the dockyard going through the yard. Adding a third station on the right of the liftout would also give passenger purpose to the layout without requiring the liftout. As I said, just an idea to ponder.

Good Luck - will be interesting to follow your progress!